Aquarius 22, 2077, m249
Last night in Europa was Party Time for the MAFL!
For one night, all MAFL players, coaches and officials could cut loose and be free as they celebrated the season with the first ever MAFL Awards Dinner, hosted by Aiger Masing.
It was an extravagant gala held at Masing Hall, complete with red carpet and flowing champagne.
Free and uninhibited was one Readale Nash, as he adorned a flamboyant purple tuxedo with matching boots. Nash with 8 goals of the season was up for the MVP award against Al’amal’s Musaddiq Baddour (10 goals) and the Immortals Uday Lanka who led the league in goals scored with 14.
“I feel lucky tonight,” said Nash as he arrived on the red carpet, accompanied by San Olympus A-list socialite Sasha Bayley, 21.
The nominees were submitted by peers in the organization and the winners were selected by an executive committee led by Masing.
"This is an important night to recognize our peers," opened Masing, "But before we do that, we must celebrate what we have accomplished together. It wasn't easy to bring the MAFL to life. We had many nay-sayers, so completing our first regular season, in itself, is an achievement we all must be proud of."
Defender of the Year
The first award presented on the evening was for Defender of the Year. Two Comets players, Stephen Liu and Samantha Park were up against the Titans’ Maria Caraball.
The award went to Stephen Liu who anchored the team’s air tight defence and led all defenders with 5 goals for the season.
“I’m thankful for this award but honestly, it easily could have gone to Samantha or Maria as well,” said Liu.
Goalkeeper of the Year
The goalkeeper nominees were Titans Icilio De Sisto, Al’amal SC’s Ahmed Pour and surprisingly United’s Yvonne Barnato who moved to a forward position after Week 15.
De Sisto and Pour both led the league with fewest goals allowed at 19. Barnato was one of the leaders at Week 15 and also led her team with goals scored at the time.
De Sisto ultimately took the award based his league leading 9 shutouts.
“Thanks to my teammates for their solid defence all year to help me get this award”, said De Sisto.
De Sisto returned to the stage shortly after as his team, the San Olympus Titans, ran off with the Best Team of the Year award over the Marineris Comets and Al’amal SC.
The Titans ended up with the best overall record in the league at 16 and 5, gave up the fewest goals in the league (tied with Al’amal) and at one point had a 12 game winning streak during the season.
Which then came as no surprise that Titans manager Paulo Salgado would take the Manager of the Year award over the Comets Gordan J. Pryce and Al’amal’s Haajid Nasr.
“I tip my hat to Paulo” said Nasr. “Our team scores the most goals this year (36) and let in the fewest goals (19) and we still end up with 5 less wins that the Titans. I’d love to know Paulo’s secret to success.”
Most Valuable Player
The most coveted prize of the evening came last; individual success would be recognized as the MVP.
And the Award went to… Immortal's Captian, Uday Lanka, not only for his 14 goals which helped lift his team to a playoff spot, but also for his leadership and excellent conduct as an ambassador to the sport.
“It’s a great honour which I owe to my teammates so tonight I’ll celebrate with them but tomorrow we get ready for the Titans,” said Lanka.
Not all were in agreement with Lanka being chosen as MVP.
“No disrespect to Uday but in our last match, he got red carded which left his team on the losing side. Not sure if that’s how you’d define sportsmanship conduct,” said Nasr.
Immortals manager Andam Mirza shrugged off Nasr’s comments afterwards, “Al’amal has Baddour, Farra and Fayad who were all in the top five for scoring. Without Uday, we would have no business being in the playoffs, so he deserves this award like no other.”
Between drinks, Nash shared his thoughts, “Personally, I think the MVP should go to the best player on the best team. Last I checked, the Titans were the best and I had the most goals on that team. That’s okay. Do you see who I’m with? I’m the one going home with the real prize tonight!”
Most Valuable Masing
There was one unofficial award that was uncontested. Owners, players and managers all raised a glass for Aiger Masing.
Indeed, the MAFL would not have existed without his individual efforts and financial contributions. He fought through the red tape with colonies across Mars and built professional sports on a planet that never planned on having it. Though the ups and downs, he's stuck with it and tonight, he was rewarded with the respect he has earned.